Certified Wine Educator and Partner/General Manager at Imbibe: Wine, Spirits, Beer
Certified Sommelier, Manager at St. John’s Restaurant & Meeting Place
On-Premise Sales Representative, Athens Distributing Company of Chattanooga
Fine Wine Sales, Athens Distributing Company of Chattanooga
Azienda Agricola Cos Pithos Rosso Sicilia IGT
It has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a wine that has such depth, grace, and complexity. The subtleties of the Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes are best paired with the subtleties of delicate meats such as lamb, rabbit, or duck. If you are looking for a wine for a
special occasion or to bring to a dinner party, this is the perfect bottle.
2013 Tikves Vranec
This wine hails from the Republic of Macedonia. It’s a perfectly wonderful, little-known red grape that is medium-bodied, lush, and rich, with opulent dark fruit flavors. One taste will inspire you to grill, roast, or broil pork, lamb, chicken, or beef. It’s even perfect with lasagna!
Wente Riva Ranch Pinot Noir
This wine, a beautiful addition to the Wente line, showcases the delicate Pinot Noir grape to perfection. Dried cranberries up front with subtle baking spices linger throughout the mid-palate and leaves you with a silky hint of earth on the finish. Pinot pairs well with seafood, poultry, and heartier salads.
2012 Hunnicutt Zinfandel
This Zinfandel is a perfect example of yin and yang. Blueberry preserves, brambly blackberries, and ripe plums are intermixed with cinnamon and hints of pipe tobacco. The flavor is powerful yet elegant with great acid structure and finesse. Pair it with your favorite braised beef or pork dishes.
2012 Turley Old Vines Zinfandel
This is an amazing food wine crafted by a Tennessee-born man that loves to cook. It has amazing backbone with a velvety core and finish. Try it with your favorite steak right off the grill.
2012 Villa di Geggiano Bandinello Toscan
This wine is made from Sangiovese, Syrah, and Ciliegiolo, and it’s extremely pleasant to drink. It’s deliciously aromatic, with dried violets, stewed cherries, plum, tobacco, and spice. It pairs well with red sauce pasta dishes, pizza, roasted meats, and cured sausages.
Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina
This is such a fun and funky wine! Though most people think Chianti when they think Italian wine, I love to see a white Italian varietal offered on a wine list. It’s definitely a full bodied white and has notes of dried apricot mixed with a bit of citrus up front with an almost salty midpalate that leaves a bone-dry finish. Italian white wine pairs well with white sauce pizza, seafood, salads, and lighter pasta dishes.
Jean-Marc Gilet Domaine de la Rouletière Vouvray Sec- Loire, France 2013
I love Loire Valley whites. This wine is made from the Chenin Blanc grape, also known as Pineau de la Loire. Chenin Blanc has naturally high acidity and this one is no exception, with its lively, subtle flavors, showing fresh
floral aromas, acacia, pear, citrus, and a dominant mineral character. It is dry on the palate and will pair extremely well with lobster, scallops, crab, pork roasts, fowl, or white bean stew.
Mercouri Estate Foloi White
Wines from Greece over the last couple of years have really stepped up their game regarding quality. The Mercouri Estate is not only using indigenous grape varieties such as red roditis in this wine but also international varieties such as viognier. I love that the richness from the viognier grape is still balanced by the citrus fruits of the red roditis. I would pair this wine with white flaky fish such as halibut, grouper, and mero sea bass.
DeBarge Vineyard and Winery Albariño
Two words: drink local! This is a solid bottle of wine that you could drink every day. The North Georgia schist, limestone, and clay make it work as well as any other land this side of the Atlantic. It pairs well with a number of dishes. Crispy-skinned fish pan-seared in your favorite oil? Yes! Spanish chorizo and clams with orange, thyme, and garlic? Yes! Fried catfish with roasted red pepper tartar sauce? Yes!
2014 Refugio Ranch Malvasia Bianca
This white is a bit of a mind-bender. Cumquats, orange blossoms, and exotic spices mix with abundant mineral notes and exceptional acidity. This wine would pair nicely with Asian fare, light shellfish dishes, and an array of cheeses.
2013 Domaine des Cassagnoles Gros Manseng
This wine includes a littleknown white grape from the Basque region in the southwestern corner of France. It’s a newcomer to the tri-state area and will please the palate when paired with lighter dishes, including roast or grilled vegetables, baked chicken, grilled fish, chicken salad, or tuna salad.
Patelin de Tablas Rosé
The Tablas Creek Vineyard “Patelin de Tablas” Rosé is a blend in the tradition of Provence, produced from three red Rhône varietals: Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Counoise. Growing Rhône varietals in southern California is becoming increasingly more popular because of the warmer climate. I would pair it with fall flavors such as pumpkin, roasted or braised meats, and spice.
One of my favorite rosés to look for is the Rarecat Rosé. It was released this year, but will only get better in 2016.
On the front, notes of grapefruit and balanced acidity flitter across the palate but leave with a delicate and dry finish. The delicate nuances of Rarecat go perfectly with salmon, shrimp, and scallops. Such an elegant rosé!
Beat the summer heat and humidity with a few bottles of this dry, crisp rosé. It pairs nicely with anything from grilled shrimp to grilled steelhead trout to fried green tomatoes to fried chicken and beyond. 2014 Domaine
Vacheron Sancerre Rosé
This rosé is like a prized painting of the Loire Valley. It’s a 100% Pinot Noir with orange blossoms, fresh raspberries, and wild roses on the nose. The palate delights with bright strawberry and pomegranate flavors and a lingering acidity. Pair this beauty with a roasted vegetable tart and fresh goat cheese. 2013 Domaine
Tempier Bandol Rosé
This is my favorite for spring and summer sipping. It’s a delicate, dry blend of handpicked grapes from the south of France, and it’s stunning in its visual beauty as well as on the palate. It has real structure that stands up to a variety of foods from rich cheeses to raw seafood dishes.
2013 Weingut Knipser Clarette Rosé
This is a dry rosé produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, St. Laurent, and Merlot that is finely tuned and made in the French saignée process. The wine is delicate and fresh with citrus, red currant, earth, and gooseberry notes. If you are looking for big strawberry and raspberry characteristics, this rosé is not for you. I would pair this with German sausage right off the grill.
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut- France NV
One of my favorite alternatives to champagne is sparkling wine. This wine delivers nice complexity on the nose with toasty, biscuity autolytic notes delicately intertwined with hints of green apple and citrus. Sparkling wines are incredibly versatile with food. They pair beautifully with smoked salmon, paté, prosciutto, and most cheese plates. The lively acidity in the wine also cuts through rich, fatty foods and brings out their flavor.
Maison Shaps Crémant de Bourgogne
This champagne-quality sparkling wine (at less than half the price of champagne) is made in the village of Meursault in Burgundy. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, the famous “bubbles from Burgundy” is a dry, crisp, hedonistic pleasure for the palate and pairs well with just about everything!
“Brut-Comté” Crémant du Jura by Domaine Hubert Clavelin
This small production 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine from the Côte du Jura is the perfect sparkling wine of 2016. Their method is the same as champagne; the wine is fermented in the bottle and each bottle is hand-riddled but does not come with the champagne price tag. Jura wines are known for their “funkier” nature which is best paired with the Jura’s amazing cheeses like Tête de Moine, Le Morbier, and Le Comté.
NV Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru V.P. Extra Brut Champagne Jean
This champagne is a rare treasure with more than six years on its lees. The bubbly is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay with a bouquet of white roses, lemon curd, and toasted meringue. The palate has notes of ripe raspberry preserves and stone fruit lathered on fresh brioche with an intriguing whisper of white pepper. Pair this gem with foie gras and jam sandwiches.
Mizubasho Pure Sake NV
There are three types of people in this world: those who could drink sparkling wine every day, those who drink it on special occasions, and those who never drink it. This is one very special occasion methode champenoise sparkling (it’s technically beer, but who cares!) that is mind-blowing and meant to be enjoyed with food. On the palate, Mizubasho Pure is nearly sake in name only with subtle melon sweetness, leaving behind all rice-related harshness.
Jean Vesselle Oeil De Perdrix
My favorite champagne to look out for is the Jean Vesselle Oeil De Perdrix. It is 100% Pinot Noir. This bubbly pours in the glass with a subtle salmon tint, and dances around the palate with every sip. Hands down, my favorite food to pair with sparkling is fried chicken, wings, or scallops.
Tim Hinck, bar manager,
DeBarge Vineyard and Winery
“There is something particularly exciting going on at DeBarge Vineyard and Winery; something that is very rare and new for the Southeastern United States. While most wineries in this region still produce mostly sweet wines, a few have begun producing some traditional, dry wines. Most regional wineries do not make these wines from grapes that are grown in this area. At DeBarge (and a handful of other wineries in the Southeast) wine enthusiasts are getting their first chance to taste Southeastern terroir as expressed in the traditional grape varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Albariño.”
One of the traditions followed at DeBarge is the practice—common to the Bordeaux region of France—of blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to create a well-balanced red wine called Labyrinth. While not as full-bodied as many “cabs,” this exceptional, fruit-forward wine is tannic enough to hold up to any meat or poultry while also possessing an extremely refined finish of cocoa and oak.
2 Cloudland White The Cloudland
White is another Old World-inspired wine, this one recalling the light, crisp whites of the Rhône valley. Again, sourcing grapes from local land, this blend of Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier is a wonderful opportunity to form a sensory profile of Southeastern American terroir. This wine is not as fruit-forward as a typical new world white wine, but rather allows some of the grassier, vegetal qualities of our landscape to shine. Perfect with fish or poultry with a light sauce, this wine shows floral notes on the nose, followed by minerality, green apple, and pear on the palate.
One final wine of interest is the recent addition of Mead. One of our best food pairings is this dessert wine with a rich, soft cheese such as goat cheese or camembert. Mea
d is wine made from honey, so the combination of these creamy cheeses with this floral honey wine is simply perfection!
marketing and event manager, Georgia Winery
“Ranging from dry to sweet, light to full bodied, my 2016 top wine picks from the Georgia Winery offer something for every discriminating taste. All four of these are great for someone who is just getting into wine or for a seasoned wine drinker who’s up for trying something new. Cheers to 2016 and all the wonderful wines it will bring us!”
1 Tara Bella
Comparable to Sauvignon Blanc, the Georgia Winery’s Tara Bella is a 100% dry white muscadine wine. Its fresh muscadine aroma with a slightly acidic finish is perfect for anyone looking for something with a hint of sweetness. Tara Bella pairs well with lamb pasanda, marinated chicken, and smoked salmon.
With a wonderful balance of Cayuga and Niagara grapes, Rhett, which is comparable to a Riesling, is a definite crowd pleaser. Its floral bouquet and semisweet, smooth finish makes this white wine pair well with Brie, shrimp cocktail, and spicy Thai noodles. Rhett is the go-to wine for any dinner party or gathering.
3 Rawlings Ruby Red
Known for its long list of health benefits, Rawlings Ruby Red is made with 100% organically-grown muscadines from Georgia Winery’s vineyard in the Chattanooga Valley. This sweet and smooth red muscadine wine could be paired with smoked pork, Italian dishes, and dark chocolate almond bark.
4 Chattanooga Blush
Even though Chattanooga blush is already one of Georgia Winery’s top wines, I feel its popularity will continue to grow in 2016. If you’re looking for a wine that’s light, sweet, smooth, and perfect to drink with a meal or by itself, this is the wine for you. Chattanooga Blush is a blend of Cayuga, Niagara, and Concord grapes. Pair this wine with your favorite pizza, barbecue, or fruit tart.